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State awards $25.2M for Philly-area projects, including Viaduct Rail Park

State officials have awarded $25.2 million in grants for Philadelphia-area redevelopment projects, including $3.5 million for the Viaduct Rail Park project planned along abandoned tracks north of Center City.

The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant recipients were listed Friday on the website of the state budget office. Of 42 grants statewide, totaling $102.5 million, 11 were for work in Philadelphia, Delaware, and Bucks Counties.

The list covers projects for which a final decision has been made, with further RACP awards expected in the near future, Jeffrey Sheridan, a spokesman for Gov. Wolf, said. "We want to ensure that these projects funded with taxpayer dollars are providing the greatest impact," he said.

Among the projects not on the list as of Friday were the proposed SLS Lux hotel and condo tower on South Broad Street, the 3.0 University Place office project in University City, and a three-acre public space planned at Park Towne Place apartments on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

But for those named, the announcement ends months of uncertainty over how much RACP funding they could expect. The Wolf administration only recently resumed awarding the grants, after a hiatus brought on by the Pennsylvania budget impasse that lasted until March.

Paul Levy, who has been leading efforts surrounding the Viaduct Rail Park proposal as president of the Center City District business association, said the award would let work  begin this fall on the project's first phase.

That initial quarter-mile stretch is budgeted at $9.6 million, and work is expected to take 15 to 18 months. It involves laying gravel and boarded paths on a section of former railway stretching from near Broad and Noble Streets to a junction just past 12th and Callowhill Streets.

Later phases would extend the rail park northeast toward Northern Liberties and west through Fairmount, covering a total of three miles.

"This will take us from Photoshop to real construction," Levy said of the RACP grant. It "puts us very close to having everything we need."

Statewide, the two biggest awards were for $10 million, one of them the already-announced grant to help overhaul the Gallery at Market East. The other $10 million grant was awarded for the redevelopment of the Yorktowne Hotel in York.

Only two Philadelphia-area projects received all the money their developers requested: the rail park and St. Mary Medical Center in Bucks County, which was awarded $900,000 for a 12,000-square-foot Levittown health-care facility.

The Philadelphia Housing Authority, meanwhile, received only $2 million of the $15 million it requested to build a supermarket and new headquarters in the city's Sharswood neighborhood. PHA spokesman Kirk Dorn said the agency would be able to find other funding sources for the project.

The PHA's partner in the Sharswood plan, grocery operator Brown's Super Stores, separately received $2 million for a "supermarket-anchored development" in West Philadelphia's Parkside neighborhood.